Kansas City International Gets Security Upgrade

June 9, 2006
Explosive-detection machines boost local baggage-screening abilities at four gates

Jun. 7--The latest wave of baggage-screening technology has landed at Kansas City International Airport.

The new equipment -- five Reveal CT-80 machines -- began scanning checked luggage this week in four of the airport's airline gates -- American, America West/US Airways, Northwest and AirTran.

The explosive-detection machines, made by the Bedford, Mass.-based Reveal Imaging Technologies, cost about $340,000 each.

Company officials said the cost is about one-third that of the larger machines used at most commercial airports.

Makers of the Reveal CT-80 machines tout their product as the smallest of all certified explosive-detection system equipment.

That means airports can put them in without major capital expense. And at 3,700 pounds, they are lighter.

"We can use these new machines in smaller places," said Richard Curasi, local director of the federal Transportation Security Administration, which oversees U.S. airport security operations.

Reveal officials also have said the machines can move 100 bags an hour, have a low false-alarm rate and one of the highest resolutions of any certified CT scanner.

The TSA certified the Reveal CT-80 machines 18 months ago.

KCI is one of 22 airports that have or are about to have the machines. Others include John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York and Newark Liberty International Airport.

Screeners take a five-day course and 16 hours of on-the-job training to become certified to use the machines, he said.

Inside the Reveal CT-80 machines , bags are X-rayed and scanned for explosives or any kind of explosive residue. If the white light on top of the machine is activated, a screener checks the image on a computer screen.

On Tuesday, at the American Airlines gate, one traveler's bag activated the alarm. The screener, who was not able to tell from the computerized image what was setting off the alarm, opened the bag.

The culprit -- a jar of grape jelly.

Curasi recognized certain food can activate the alarm because of similar densities to explosive materials.

"Velveeta cheese and peanut butter can do the same thing," he said.

But such instances, Curasi said, show the machines are working.

"This is an excellent piece of technology," he said, "and an efficient one too."

(Kansas City Star (MO) (KRT) -- 06/08/06)